Sunday, 2 November 2008


                                  Medwyn Williams' whopping veggies.

After struggling with a half dismembered whitebeam tree all weekend, it's a joy to come into the warmth and dryness of my study, and to visit the Blogosphere again.  Not unnaturally, after so much hard gardening, one's thoughts turn to food.

A propos of which, Robinsons vegetable seed catalogue arrived yesterday.  I love it, not because it has a wider range of vegetable seeds than anyone else, but because the firm has so much history.  

This is a family business,  founded by William Robinson in 1860.  Not the Gravetye Manor Robinson who wrote The English Garden - nasty piece of work he was, by the  way, but as ever, I digress.  I ramble.  Stop it! Get to the point!!  Robinsons is still relatively small, still run by the family and still brings life, zest and interest to the RHS flower shows.  They specialise in big things, so for size queens - among vegetable gardeners - they are a must!  Giant cabbages and monster Kelsae onions are their stock in trade.  But Robinsons sell lots of other great stuff too. I bought Tromboncini type climbing courgettes - not big, but wonderful for flavour and growing very long (and coming in a variety of very rude shapes) They graced my nasty, cheap-looking metal obelisk, last summer and made it look quite nice.  

Robinsons offer lots of intersting chilli peppers, too, and their tomato range looks mouthwateringly good.  They are at

There are far too few vegetable exhibits at the big RHS shows.  The most spectacular showman, veg-wise, is Medwyn Williams. His parsnips are longer, and onions more curvaceous and his tomatoes more glistening and glorious than anyone elses.  I've just been editing pictures we shot at Hampton Court  - yes, I'm that far behind with the work! - and was amazed to recall that Medwyn's carrots can even get erections.

Medwyn's upright carrots.


  1. For a moment there I thought the blog post had appeared and then been deleted by the thought police for rude words! Luckily you were only adding another picture.

    I'm a bit worried about where the name label may have been stuck...

  2. I found the gaint veg entries at the Malvern Autumn show fascinating. It is definately an art form or maybe a dark art!

  3. Carrots never look quite right standing up like that, especially with the curly parsley matting. Thanks for the seed source - sadly our Cdn$ is down the dumper - so it will be NA seeds for me this year. Have you ever tried Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds?

  4. Did you see the nation's biggest ever pumpkin on the telly on Friday? Championship winning seeds command an eye wateringly high price. I'm thinking that's where my savings need to go next, rather than HBOS.

  5. Thanks, barbarapc, for the link to Baker Creek - great stuff! Amazing bearded guy!

    Heirloom seeds are big business, now, and it's wonderful to have the choice, as long as we remember that some varieties are no longer 'mainstream' because they are inferior to modern ones. Old Brussels Sprout varieties, for instance, are horrible and need frost to sweeten their flavour; modern, tight button ones are tastier and more productive. But a lot of heirloom tomatoes are vastly superior to zippy modern kinds.

    BTW - The medlar on my previous post has had its branches propped for some years - can't remember who asked that, but I hope you browse this answer.

    Oh, and someone asked 'what's wrong with the Soil Association?' The answer is nothing, in particular, and the world is far better with it than without it. But I promise more on that topic later.

  6. It was me who asked about the medlar - thanks for the answer :)

    I found out about Baker Creek when googling to try and get hold of some Persicaria orientalis seed. I love the way it's called Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate in the USA.